The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has been hosting the most influential American design awards since 1981. This year, the CFDA Fashion Awards were presented at New York’s Brooklyn Museum on June 4th. In partnership with Swarovski, the annual presentation ceremony was hosted by Issa Rae, creator of web series, Awkward Black Girl, and star of HBO show, Insecure.
With diversity and inclusiveness as connecting threads throughout the evening, designers and influencers were honored for their outstanding contribution to the industry.
Awarded both Womenswear and Menswear Designer of the Year prizes in 2017, Raf Simons was again named Womenswear Designer of the Year for Calvin Klein, while Supreme received the Menswear Designer of the Year. Oprah Winfrey came to honor her friend, British Vogue Editor in Chief, Edward Enninful, presenting him with the CFDA’s Media Award. The Fashion Icon Award went to Naomi Campbell, followed by the International Award presented to Donatella Versace. A first-time award was presented to Ralph Lauren; the CFDA Members Salute lined up legendary members of the CFDA including: Vera Wang, John Varvatos, Thom Browne, Alexander Wang, Michael Kors, and Tommy Hilfiger. For the complete list of 2018 honorees, visit CFDA.com
Since 1996, the CFDA Fashion Awards include fellowships for young designers and programs to support fashion design students. Fashion School Daily is pleased to announce that for the second year in a row, the students from the School of Fashion won two out of five CFDA scholarships
After receiving the Liz Claiborne Scholarship Award in 2017, Susan Zienty, BFA Fashion Design, returned to CFDA Fashion Awards to win the 2018 Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award and a yearlong fellowship at Kenneth Cole, supported by an annual stipend of $50.000. (Last year the prize went to Erika Tompkins, BFA Fashion Design.) Cameron Orland, BFA Knitwear Design, was awarded the 2018 Liz Claiborne Design Scholarship Award of $25.000.
Meet the designers and learn more about their award-winning portfolios:
Susan Zienty, BFA Fashion Design
Tell us about your project for the CFDA/Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award:
The foster children of my personal past and recurring future heavily inform Adolescent Anonymous‘ silhouette – a modernist approach to a controlled, compartmentalized form in which one appears to move simultaneously between hesitancy and haste … a direct reflection of the foster child’s yearning for consistency while simultaneously caught in an inconsistent sway. The vitality of a strong support system needed within a foster child’s life is indicated through the continual use of sturdy platforms and block heels. The expressive, explosive hues and impulsive, agitated line qualities (suffused within the therapy assessment artwork) influence the unrestrained, impetuous creation of textiles. Exploration and experimentation of material is impacted by the resilience of the child’s imagination and constant desire for tactility despite facing life-altering obstacles. The use of salvaged materials and precious stones secured within a substance is in loving memory of my relationship with my longest-lasting foster sister – an effort to make permanent the connection no longer sustained.
… Adolescent Anonymous is constructed to commemorate, celebrate, and unveil the profound beauty that can emerge from hardship in the foster care system.
What is the best advice you have ever received from an instructor in the School of Fashion? “Draw to design. Don’t draw to draw.” – Robert Friedrich
What is your favorite memory of being in the School of Fashion?
Spending 15 hours a day in the fifth floor studio working on collection with all of my friends.
Tell us about your project for the CFDA/Liz Claiborne Scholarship:
My collection consisted of an essay, a bio, a resume, a video, and a 44-page portfolio. The portfolio contained sketchbook development, as well as, presentation boards of 8 looks, garment draping, flats, and details.
A big aspect of my collection was the concept:
In this time of inclusivity, why don’t we celebrate aging? When wrinkles, that mark a lifetime of wisdom, are deemed unfavorable and freckles, hyper-pigmentation, and vitiligo are concealed only to show an empty and undecorated canvas, we present a shell of who we are, unwilling to share and present the true qualities that are the hallmarks of age. Qualities including individuality, self-confidence, and resiliency.
To seek out those qualities, I look toward home. I am from the island of Guåhan in the Marianas. I am a Chamorro woman, a chamorrita. Growing up in Guåhan, I was raised to respect my elders or, “manåmko’.” It is known in our island that our elderly are considered our first teachers. They are the link between the past and present, prized and sought after for their humor, their knowledge of the old language, and their philosophy.
My collection titled, Second Skin, celebrates the skin we are in. I created a collection that embraces organic knitwear.
Knitwear that embraces the values of my grandmother by flowing naturally and intrinsically yet retaining a strong design. Knitwear that moves with you, not against you, that embodies the flexibility and grace of my grandmother and all Manåmko’. My knitwear celebrates what makes us human, through tactile touch and gentle stitch manipulation. Whether wrinkled, pigmented, scarred, or flecked from the sun; it is time we love our skin in all its forms.
What was your inspiration behind your project?
My inspiration started with an image I was drawn to. It depicted a nude figure wrapped in sheer cloth. I noticed how her skin was folding and pulling and wanted to mimic that same effect with knitwear.
Upon further research, I looked to the great Sonia Rykiel and her words of wisdom for guidance: “Clothes should be so well-adapted to you, that you should be conscious of the way you fit into them, so that they are a second skin. They should be as tender on you as a lover or a friend. Knits are made to feel like they grow on you…From the very beginning I’ve said to women not to follow the fashion rules blindly, and to adapt clothes to suit who they are, and not the contrary…I think that there are so many women who understand nothing about clothes and they should try and understand themselves before they start putting on disguises. They should stand in front of the mirror for a day, two days, or three, and find out what they have which is beautiful, interesting…I love how clothes can express who you are, but how can you express who you are without understanding yourself? I find that the women with the best style are those who truly know themselves, and appreciate their own beauty.”
This wisdom was the basis of my inspiration; the deeper I developed, I found that my passion for knitwear in combination with my deep love for my heritage intermixed to produce the collection is it today.
What is the best advice you have ever received from an instructor in the School of Fashion?
My best advice came from Chris Li who once told me, “Work smart, not just hard.” It was a reminder that spending hours on end in the lab was meaningless if I didn’t stop and plan towards my goals and how I can best achieve them. As artists, we like to nit-pick and can spend years developing the tiniest of details. Working smart and not just hard reminded me of my purpose.
What is your favorite memory of being in the School of Fashion?
My favorite memory isn’t just one. I think collectively my experiences with my dedicated instructors and classmates created an environment that felt like family. Our bond that developed through hours of dedication in the knit lab made me look forward to being there even when things got tough. My heart is full every time I think about my knitwear family. There’s a special energy that’s shared amongst my classmates. We all want one another to succeed and we always support each other. I am ever grateful that they are in my life.
What advice would you give students who want to apply for the CFDA Liz Claiborne Scholarship?
It’s scary – I know it is! And you’ll have no idea how great the reward is and how monumental the experience will be even to simply compete. But I promise you, if you stay consistent, work smart, and stay passionate, tasks that seem impossible will happen. Look to yourself, I think what got me where I am because I stuck to the things I value and shared my narrative. CFDA wants young talent and a special point of view, so bring your unique voice to the table, play to your strengths, and remember you are capable to succeeding.